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Publish date: Apr 13, 2011

DII Council looks at growth, administrative-burden issues

By David Pickle

Division II’s Management Council charted a new course at its spring meetings, looking for new ways of doing business that will make the most of divisional and institution resources.

Meeting Monday and Tuesday in Indianapolis, the Council focused on the usual April review of possible legislation and committee reports. But the primary emphasis of the meeting involved strategic growth, reducing administrative burden and communicating more strategically.

“I’m confident that leadership is accepting the challenge not as things we can’t do but rather as more of a question of how we can do things differently,” said Management Council chair Rick Cole, athletics director at Dowling. “I know it’s a little bit of a cliché, but it’s reality.”

The questions about strategic growth and administrative burden were treated in several brainstorming discussions.

Regarding growth issues, members were asked to respond to several legislative concepts (most of which came with waiver provisions):

  • Effective immediately, requiring that a conference desiring to become a Division II member conference must be composed of at least 10 active Division II institutions and/or institutions in the provisional period of the Division II membership process at the time of application; and that the 10 institutions must be located in the same geographic area
  • Requiring a new conference to have at least 10 active members to become an active conference (effective Aug. 1, 2013).

To specify that the Management Council, on recommendation of the Membership Committee, may establish an annual limit on the number of conferences that will be invited into active conference membership each year, unless unusual circumstances warrant a different action.

  • Requiring current active member conferences to have at least eight active members (effective Aug. 1, 2017).
  • Requiring current active member conferences to have at least 10 active members (effective Aug. 1, 2022).
  • Increasing from two to five years the waiting period for a new conference to be eligible for automatic qualification (effective Aug. 1, 2013).
  • Establishing a two-year grace period for an existing conference to retain active conference privileges as the conference works to regain the required number of members, provided the conference remains within one member of the minimum required.
  • Requiring that a Division II conference to have taken action to allow an institution to become a full member of that conference before such institution can be invited to become a Division II active member (effective Aug. 1, 2012, for any institution applying for Division II membership on or after Sept. 1, 2012).
  • Requiring a sports committee to reserve at least 50 percent of the championship field for regional tournaments for at-large teams; further, to specify that the remainder of the championships field will be awarded to conferences that meet automatic qualification criteria.

Management Council members expressed some concern about whether conferences should have the right to remain smaller than the revised minimums or if conferences might be pressured to take a school that doesn’t fit their profile in order to comply with the new requirements. Other Management Council members wondered if some consideration should be given to a maximum size for Division II conferences.

Management Council members also were asked to consider the establishment of an in-region, non-conference incentive plan that would provide funds to conferences with at least 12 members and with at least 15 in-region, non-conference games (at least three in each gender). 

Some members wondered about the 12-member threshold since the minimum number of required members would be 10. The response from proponents was that the Long-Range Projections Task Force believes optimum membership for Division II conferences is about 14 members and is therefore encouraging growth beyond the minimum requirement. Further, with larger conferences, the schedules traditionally include more conference games. The incentive might encourage conferences to look for more games outside of their conference, If the fund is implemented, several Management Council members suggested that conferences be required to account for how the funds were used.

The Membership Committee is still seeking feedback on the recommendations.  Nothing has been formally recommended, and the Presidents Council has not sponsored any legislation at this time. Any changes in legislation will be considered by the Division II membership at the 2012 NCAA Convention.

Further, Division II currently is in a moratorium for new conference members until January 2013, although the moratorium could be lifted before then, pending action at the 2012 Convention.

Administrative burden

The discussion about administrative burden was distinct from previous examinations such as legislative deregulation. In this instance, the purpose of the brainstorming was to target time-consuming tasks that could be reduced or eliminated, either because a policy may no longer be needed or because a process could be improved. The Legislation Committee will lead the overall review in this area, with vetting across the spectrum of Division II constituencies.

Some concepts identified at the Management Council meeting included:

  • Reviewing rules regarding contact restrictions, including telephone calls and texting.
  • Possible changes regarding complimentary admissions during official visits.
  • Placing all compliance-related forms online.
  • Aligning the timing of federal EADA and NCAA gender-equity reporting.
  • Creating more reporting efficiencies among the Eligibility Center, Compliance Assistant software, the Academic Performance Census and the Academic Success Rate.

The proposed timeline for review of these issues by the Division II governance structure includes an initial review by the Management Council and Presidents Council in spring 2011, continual review by the Legislation Committee during its 2011 and 2012 in-person meetings and possible legislative recommendations for consideration by the membership at the 2012 and 2013 NCAA Conventions.

Less controversial recommendations may be considered at the 2012 Convention.  However, the recommendations that require additional dialogue and debate will be vetted at the 2013 Convention.

The Legislation Committee welcomes any recommendations and feedback from all constituent groups.  Such information should be forwarded to the following e-mail address:

Strategic communications

The Council also endorsed a Model Strategic Communications Plan, which will be officially unveiled at Division II’s Community-Engagement Workshop in June in Indianapolis.

The plan − developed over the last year through a collaboration of athletics directors, conference commissioners and sports-communication professionals – lays out a set of guiding principles, staffing models, and  resources that will contribute to improved strategic communication.

In endorsing the document, the Council emphasized that the plan is a model (rather than a mandate) for athletics programs that want to improve communications.

Other business

In other business at its April 11-12 meeting, the Division II Management Council:

  • Approved changes to Division II championships regions resulting from the addition of the new Great American Conference in Oklahoma and Arkansas. The revisions will be announced in advance of the April 28 meeting of the Division II Presidents Council.
  • Pending approval by the Planning and Finance Committee in two weeks, approved bracket and field expansions in men’s lacrosse (four to eight teams in 2012-13); women’s lacrosse (six to eight teams in 2012-13; also four regions rather than two starting in 2012-13); men’s and women’s indoor track and field (200 to 270 student-athletes per gender and adding the 3,000-meter run for both genders); men’s and women’s outdoor track and field (310 to 377 student-athletes per gender), and men’s and women’s cross country (24 to 32 teams per gender and 16 to 24 automatic qualifiers per gender for individuals, raising the field from 184 to 248 student-athletes per gender).
  • Recommended sponsorship of legislation by the Presidents Council to modify the winter-break period so that the seven consecutive days off would dictated by where Dec. 20 falls on the calendar (a chart would be added to the Division II Manual identifying the particular break period 15 years out). The proposal is a follow-through to a Presidents Council commitment made at the 2011 Convention.
  • Recommended sponsorship of legislation by the Presidents Council that would permit alumni games, fundraising activities and celebrity sports activities to be conducted between the first date of practice and the end of the regular season in all sports but football.
  • Endorsed the report of the Long-Range Projections Task Force.